Traveling has become slightly more complicated recently. Apart from the added security and regulations about what is or is not allowed in your luggage or on the plane, some destinations have unique entry requirements including various forms of documentation.
Let’s not forget that traveling by any mode beyond your own comes with potential logistics challenges. Missed layovers, delayed flights, or lost luggage can turn an exciting adventure into a travel nightmare.
Thankfully, seasoned travelers have worked out the kinks and shared their tips for a seamless experience from planning to packing, and more. One of the most popular recommendations for reducing travel stress is packing lightly.
For some, this can be a challenge; not just because they’re prone to over-packing, but also because it can take some practice to perfect what is essential and which items can go the furthest.
Packing for two weeks, believe it or not, can be accomplished with one backpack. We’ve tested out various ways to pack a single backpack for an extended vacation and found a system that works well.
This backpack challenge helps travelers skip baggage, save time and space, and free-up the mind and body to focus more on the moment and less on the stuff. Do you think you could do it?
Here are some helpful tips.
Choosing the Right Backpack
The right backpack for the backpack challenge should be spacious but not bigger than carry-on size. Your travel backpack should also have decent structure and be comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
Unless you’re aiming for an extra-minimalist travel style, a spacious backpack is going to be the most important ingredient to backpack challenge success.
The Luxon Travel Backpack is both spacious and compartmentalized, which makes packing your multi-week essentials accessible and organized. The brand even makes a rolling version of the same bag, so if you’re traveling overseas and over carrying your backpack, the versatile option might be a worthy investment.
If the idea of digging deep into the bottom of a backpack has kept you from embracing the backpack challenge, consider the Vera Bradly Lay Flat backpack. It’s water-repellent material is made from recycled water bottles, making the bag both lightweight and sustainable.
The Vera Bradly Lay Flat Backpack includes three exterior compartments and a space for your laptop, but most importantly, the back opens like a traditional suitcase.
Of course, if you’re planning to use your backpack on hikes or day-trips while traveling, you’ll likely opt for a true backpacker’s setup like the REI Co-op Trailbreak 60 Pack. This backpack comfortably carries up to 35 pounds and features a sleeping bag compartment, stash pockets on the back and hip, and water bottle pockets.
Make A Schedule
Having a relative schedule will help you pack for success. When taking on the backpack challenge, the best way to eliminate unnecessary items is by knowing what you’ll need.
Travelers who struggle with over-packing deal with indecision because they don’t know what to prepare for; “What will we do? Where will we go? Who will be there? Is is going to be hot or cold?”
The more details you have, the less room for, “What ifs?” Naturally, you’ll want wiggle room for spontaneity or unexpected changes, but a basic activity plan and a weather forecast should offer all the info you need to pack with purpose.
Get the essential basics out of the way first.
Toiletries aren’t anything to loose sleep over because, if you ever forget something like a toothbrush or a pair of socks, either your hotel will have some handy, or there will be a convenience store nearby where you can get what you need.
Plus, you can save even more space if you wait until you reach your destination to purchase toiletries like toothpaste, shower products or razors.
Essential basics are the important items you can’t replace at a gas station or Walmart, including medications, ID, credit cards, and necessary paperwork like passport copies or vaccine records.
Next, let’s say you’re packing for a tropical beach vacation, but your destination also has a little culture you’d like to explore.
Take a look at the forecast and decide which days are going to be best for outdoor activities snorkeling, and which days will be best for tourist activities like visiting historic landmarks.
Finally, don’t forget to prepare for fancier affairs such as dinner dates or going to an event. With a general schedule in mind, you can confidently start selecting what to pack.
Pack Multi-Use Items
Have you heard of the capsule wardrobe? This is a popular trick that minimalist use to downsize their belongings to maximize time and space, while minimizing expense and stress.
With a capsule wardrobe, you can mix-and-match pieces or wear one item multiple ways. Apply this principal to your apparel choices and you should have no problems with the backpack challenge.
For women, swimsuits and dresses are great multi-use items that maximize packing space. For example, a one-piece swimsuit can double as a body suit when worn with a skirt, shorts or pants.
A dress can be both casual or fancy when paired with the different shoes and accessories, but most importantly, a dress is a single item whereas an outfit typically requires two or three items.
When packing essentials for a day of travel or tourism, a FLPSDE Dual Chamber Water Bottle is the perfect multi-use item.
This reusable, stainless steel water bottle has a built in compartment for snacks so you can minimize waste and reduce the amount of stuff you have to lug around.
This water bottle is also handy for stashing cash or keys while at the beach, and its snap-away carrying handle is perfect for walking around town or latching onto your backpack.
Layer When Traveling
The final trick for packing two weeks into one bag is to wear layers while traveling – your bulkier items to be exact.
Shoes, sweatshirts and jackets, jeans, hats and accessories tend to take up the most space in a backpack or suitcase.
Since airplanes are notoriously cold anyway, use this opportunity to layer your travel outfit to save packing space.
Starting with shoes, it’s a great idea to wear slip-on shoes when commuting by air. Easy-off tennis shoes and chunky sandals are bulky items that could be worn in the airport to save backpack space.
Nevertheless, if you plan to do some hiking and have your favorite Mammut hiking boots are sure to take up valuable space in your backpack so you can either pay for TSA pre-check, or be prepared to slip them on and off while going through security.
Jeans are a great multipurpose item to have handy if the weather changes or you need an option that transitions easily from day to night.
Wear your favorite jeans while traveling to save space in your backpack and pair with a versatile tank or t-shirt. On top of your tank, a sweatshirt or zip up jacket is easy enough to tie around your waist if you get warm.
Top-off your travel attire with accessories. You favorite jewelry, watch and bandana or scarf will take up zero space in your backpack if they’re on your body.
Choose versatile accessories so your airport look doesn’t clash and to mixed-and-match with the other outfits you’ve packed.
Lastly, avoid the big beach hats and choose something that will both keep your face protected for the sun and hide your dirty hair days; a panama hat or baseball cap are classic options that can be worn while traveling, saving you space in your backpack.
There you have it! Four simple tips for packing two weeks of travel into one backpack. Will you try the backpack challenge? I bet, once you give it a shot, you’ll never go back to overpacking again!
What are your tips for traveling lightly? Do you have go-to travel gear that gets you from day to night? Share your own tips in the comments.